Thanks to Denz over at RSL Soapbox for trading three questions with me again like he always does so faithfully. Read my answers to his questions here.
1) When Dallas and RSL last met, both teams were hobbled and it really showed in a relatively tepid 1-1 draw. Has RSL improved since then and if so, how has the team changed?
If you had asked me this last week, I would have said yes but it appears the off week for RSL was a real curse as now we are dealing with both Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman being gone with the USMNT, Javier Morales and Chris Wingert are 50-50 to be available, Chris Schuler is out for a few weeks, and then we find out this week that Paulo Jr. has some severe dental issues and hasn't practiced all week, plusTerukazu Tanaka and Leone Cruzhave missed at least one practice session this week.
Oh and Alvaro Saborio's knee is bothering him again. I think RSL had shown a lot of signs of improvement since that 1-1 draw but most of it seems to be in mental toughness as the guys seem much more focused over the last month, also on the defensive side of the ball, where we have given up just 1 goal in our last 3 matches. So it will be interesting to see how the team adjusts to callups and injuries, should make for an interesting match.
2) I think there's a lot of mutual respect between these two sides as two teams that really try to play soccer rather than MLS hackball...at least when both teams are healthy...do you feel the same way and what is the overall impression of Dallas among the RSL faithful?
I do think because of the fact that Jason, Jeff and Miles all spent time playing in Dallas and with John Ellinger being on the Dallas staff there are a lot of connections between the two sides and I think that has lead to one level of respect. I also think the play on the pitch and some very good matches between the teams over the last several seasons has built this into a nice little rivalry, our guys know that with our struggles in Texas that we have to get as many points from you guys as possible when you come to Utah.
I think the playing styles of each team lead to what is normally a fairly exciting match to watch, RSL's possession style against the defend and attack up the wings style usually keeps the midfield open for both teams which leads to good chances for both sides to build some good offensive efforts. Then you toss in the fact that both sides normally line up some of the best center backs and keepers in the league and the competition level goes up a couple notches.
I only wish we could get a match between both teams at full strength, the potential matchup with Javier Morales and David Ferreira in the middle running the teams is just something that I think could lead to some great matches for fans to watch. We do get another match this year, and in MLS one never knows what might happen.
3) This is RSL's first game in two weeks, though there was a friendly played against BYU. Do you think this break will be a benefit to them or could we see your team come out with a little bit of early rust...also how has this break benefitted your overall team health situation.
I am a bit worried about this one to be honest, lets face facts Dallas is getting desperate for a win and RSL has been playing well but as I said in question one a number of injury issues have jumped up in the last week. We did see a number of regular starters get some minutes in that scrimmage against BYU as well as a number of our younger players, which is something that could play a big role on Saturday.
We are seeing both Chris Wingert and Javier Morales get closer to fitness but both were said to be 50-50 for Saturday, and it sounds as if the break actually did a bit more harm than good, Chris Schuler is being rested as they try to avoid a worse injury to his foot, some other guys have picked up knocks that might impact the 18 for Saturday, but I think for guys like Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil, Will Johnson and others a little break could be a very good thing.
Bonus: As always, give us a guy on RSL we may not know who could have a big impact on Saturday (and don't say Paulo Junior)
Well Paulo Jr, kidding, there are two guys that I think could make a big impact on Saturday, first is Jonny Steele, with call ups and injuries we might get to see him get some serious minutes on Saturday and he brings a energy and passion that are hard to match. He has become this year's super sub for RSL with two stoppage time goals (both game winners) in just 366 minutes of playing time, not bad numbers for a guy who had bounced around the various lower divisions of soccer in North America for the last couple of year.
Second is a guy who has also shown his ability to come off the bench and make an big impact is someone FC Dallas fans might remember, Emiliano Bonfigli. The 23 year old was taken in this years supplemental draft and while he only has 45 minutes of playing time so far with RSL he has shown that his pace and awareness are something the RSL attack can really use. I think both of them will probably see some minutes on Saturday, and both of them have shown they can in limited minutes make a real impact on matches.